The Militia Immaculatae, Army of the Immaculata, or Knights of the Immaculata is a worldwide Catholic movement of evangelization founded by St Maximilian Kolbe in 1917.
The organization was formed 1917 in Rome in response to protests against the Pope by Freemasons in Rome.
After the Second Vatican Council the MI was changed to fit the new modernistic and ecumenical spirit, and was no longer to be militant and missionary. Seeing the need for this kind of War of Charity, a traditional society in the original spirit of the MI was formed in the year 2000 under the auspices of the Society of St Pius X. Receiving the recommendation of its then-Superior Msgr Bernard Fellay.
With an increasing crisis within the Church and the “decisive battle” spoken of by Our Lady of Fatima, worsening, a resolute army of seasoned combat troops under the banner of “the Lady, veiled with the sun” of the Apocalypse is more necessary than ever. If it was necessary when Communists protested the Pope, how much more when the Church itself is in its Passion.
Not a typical association
The essence of the MI consists in consecration to the Immaculate. The Knights dedicate themselves to their Queen as instruments to spread the Kingdom of the Christ through Mary and to save souls. First they do this through prayers and sacrifices, but also through external works of apostolate, especially by distributing the Miraculous Medals. Thereby the MI can be designated as a concrete answer based on the requests of Our Lady of Fatima.
The Militia Immaculatae is not an association in the conventional sense, with definite concrete activities, designed for a particular group of interested persons.
“It is a movement which should attract the masses and snatch them away from Satan. Once souls have been won over to the Immaculata, there will also be a few who can be led further to the very height of devotion, even to the point of heroism in the service of spreading the Kingdom of God through the Immaculata. All religious orders and congregations, all the movements in the Church can also belong to the MI Membership in the MI will enable each member to give his best to the apostolate, and in this way attain Christian perfection in his state of life, in his vocation. It is necessary to understand the MI as something transcendent rather than general; this means that it should not be viewed as just one organization among many others; rather, it ought to penetrate into the depths of all other organizations.” (St Maximilian Kolbe, from a letter dated December 31, 1935).
“The essence of the MI consists of belonging to the Immaculata unconditionally, irrevocably, unreservedly, and in every respect. That is why anyone who joins the MI becomes entirely Her property. And in precisely this way he belongs to Jesus, just as She belongs to Jesus, and the more he is Her property, the more he belongs to Jesus."
“The MI calls itself a militia, a knighthood, because anyone who belongs to Her does not limit himself to consecrating himself totally to the Immaculata, but he also strives, as much as he can, to win the hearts of others for Her, so that others, too, may consecrate their hearts to Her, just as he has consecrated himself to Her."
“The object of the MI is to strive for the conversion of sinners, heretics, schismatics, etc., and especially of Freemasons, as well as for the sanctification of all, under the protection and through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin.”
Because of this MI members may join in groups to work for Our Lady, or do so individually. Different degrees of membership are possible depending on the ability and zeal of the member. Some members may focus on an apostolate of mainly prayer, others may be more active.
Degrees of membership
Fr. Maximilian Kolbe distinguishes three degrees in the MI, depending upon the members’ zeal, their capabilities and their state in life.
- “In the first degree of the MI each one consecrates himself to the Immaculata and endeavors to realize the purpose of the Militia individually, according to his own circumstances and the rules of prudence.” This degree is the basis, the foundation of the Militia: in his individual, personal life, the Knight of the Immaculata prays, sacrifices and works like a soldier in single combat.
- “In the second degree of the MI, the Knights bind themselves by special statutes and programs. They unite their forces, in order to reach their declared goal more quickly and effectively.” This degree is characterized by united effort and the organization of Knights so as to conduct a public apostolate. The Knights can join forces for various projects, whether in a parish, in a local religious community, or at the level of a religious order or congregation. Associations can also be formed by Knights who share the same spiritual interests, grouped by age or apostolic aims, etc. Furthermore, already existing organizations (e.g. youth movements, study groups, etc.) can subscribe to the ideal of the MI and thus function as second-degree MI groups.
- “The third degree of the MI consists in an unlimited devotion to the Immaculata. Thus She can do with us what She wills and as She wills. We belong entirely to Her and She belongs entirely to us. We do everything with Her help, we live and work under Her protection.”
Because the MI is not a Third Order or association in the Canonical sense, one can become a member of the MI and of other associations.
The MI Apostolate in Australia & New Zealand
The Militia Immaculatæ is coordinated by an international director, Fr Karl Stehlin, who promotes the MI and encourages members in their apostolate. Locally in each district there is a coordinator, who provides members with the materials necessary for their work, enrolls new members and ensures that member are kept in contact. In Australia this is Fr. Andrew Cranshaw and in New Zealand this is Fr Ian Andrew Palko.